Thursday, April 7, 2011

List Building: A Matter of Blocks

There was a faint possibility I might be able to catch a game against fellow Starving Crazed Weasel Kev on Thursday night. However, we had not previously discussed the PRECISE size of the game.

So I went way back in the time machine to when we first re-started Warhammer.

For the first few games I would painstakingly construct 3x5 index cards for each unit with their stat lines, equipment, etc. On each card I would highlight stuff that might need to be remembered such as armor saves, weapons conferring Always Strikes Last, any magical banners or items and so forth, thus allowing me to tell at a glance where things stood.

The original plan was to keep these in a file so that at the drop of a hat I could construct an army just by pulling out the appropriate cards.

Unfortunately, soon after this the army books changed from Hordes of Chaos to Warriors of Chaos, my unit sizes kept switching and I got confused as to which ones were up to date and which were hold-overs from the Battle for Skull Pass rules versus actually using the appropriate army books.

Now that the composition rules have changed, I am giving serious consideration to attempting the modular build system again.

Basically it would revolve around making cards for the commonly taken units I make.

 12 Chaos Warriors with Hand Weapon, shield, full command, mark of tzeentch.
5 chaos knights with full command, mark of nurgle, banner of rage
5 chaos knights with full command, mark of khorne, war banner
50 Chaos Marauders with full command, great weapons, mark of khorne
5 Chaos Marauder Horsemen with throwing axes, musician, light armor.
Exalted Champion on chaos steed, mark of nurgle, banner of chaos
Level 2 w.Dispel scroll
Level 2 w/tzeentch, puppet, steed
Level 4 w/tzeentch

I use these often enough that I would be able to build a list in 5 minutes.

"Want to play 1600?"
"Sure." Hasty calculation tells me I need 400 points of core. Either the Chaos Warriors and 2 Marauder Horsemen units or the Marauder horde and 2 Horsemen would would a larger block of Warriors (with or without the Horsemen).

Then drop in the ever-present Knights (and soon returning Shaggoth and Dragon Ogres) and I have my list built.

Want to play 2400? No problem. 600 points of core is easily filled by the Marauder Horse, Marauder Horde and one Chaos Warrior blocks. Now I can "modular up" my Knights to a unit of 10 and unit of 5 and I am almost there.

In short, if I sit down for just one evening and put in the work I could easily have in place a modular army building system that, with but minor tweaks could assemble an army of virtually any size in moments.

Of course, in the case of the Warriors, that is largely true because of my familiarity.

But the system would be easily converted to some of my more seldom played forces. Say I decided to play the dwarfs. I probably should since they fit me so well. Slow moving, portly, constantly grumbling...I think I might just be a really tall Dwarf.

Anyway, instead of having locked in units like I do with WoC, I might more have slots such as this:
"Full command:x points"
"Option for Great Weapon: +x points/model"
"Option for Hand Weapon /Shield: +x points/model"
Base cost: x points/model"

Now, the observant among us will point out "Isn't that pretty much what the army book does?"

First off...shut up.

Second...yes and no. In this case, by having the 3x5 index card with appropriate things highlighted (as:4+) and knowing I need x points of core, I can simply grab the card, throw it on the table and not have to write out all their stats/important things. A scratch paper lets me fiddle with the points and meanwhile I will save time by not having to look at units I never take such as Quarrelers, Slayers, etc.

But realistically, I would be trying to build them in ROUGHLY 250 point blocks. This makes the 25% thing pretty easy to manipulate.

So take a unit such as Thunderers. I routinely give them shields and a musician (and recently even standards). I also tend to take them in 10-man units due to frontage plans. Throw down an index card for that and I am well on my way to being ready to fill my core.

Do the same thing with blocks of 20, 25 and 30 Warriors and I am set.

Also, since my character builds tend to be pretty similar, I could have them pre-made and ready to go.

It would not take much time to make these lists for the High Elf and Orc and Goblin armies, either. In just an evening I could make the index cards.

This would allow me to play virtually any army at virtually any size in 5 or 10 minutes without ever picking up the army book.

A little bit of prep work would thus result in a LOT of enhanced play enjoyment.

The sad part is...I suspect a person who knew how to work Excel could probably make this up so even the cards would be extraneous. I suspect a person using them solely for their own use (or possibly their small gaming group) would not run afoul of the notorious G-W legal beagles for any copyright issues.

But that person is not me. So for now, modular, pointed, highlighted index cards seem like a wise way to go.

Check out this battle about half way down for a couple glimpses of the index cards in action

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